Melissa Clemonds with some of her charges in the day care she owns and operates. (Picture by Lennox Devonish.)
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MELISSA CLEMONDS is a highly respected business owner and an ambitious woman who juggles three businesses, family and education.
She said she never imagined that she would be so successful but she always knew she was destined for greatness. She combined her passion for beauty with her intrinsic ability to understand the complexities of finance, and she became an entrepreneur from an early age. She explained to EASY magazine that she was able to realise her dreams because of her go-getter work ethic.
“I had a passion for beauty from a young girl,” she said. “I love looking glamorous and making people look the same. I love making people feel more confident by bringing out their inner beauty. When I came to Barbados from Guyana at 18 years old, I used to braid hair in my mother’s veranda but I wanted to be my own boss. I landed a job in finance and I opened Mel’s Exotic Salon at 19 years old while I was studying.”
But Melissa, otherwise known as Mel, did not stop there. She continued her education and became a qualified tutor and opened a beauty school. She teaches in Barbados, St Vincent and St Lucia.
Along the way Mel gave birth to a girl, and like any mother she wanted to be close to her daughter and ensure her child was well taken care of at a nursery. So instead of looking around for a day care, Mel decided to open one near her beauty establishment. She was able to work and visit her baby whenever she wanted.
However, having three businesses did not satisfy Mel’s ambition. She advanced her education further and studied theology at Codrington College. Mel said that her experience at the college made her think of beauty in an entirely different way.
“I am trying to change the culture of beauty one step at a time. I want to make people understand that beauticians are the pipeline of the society,” she said.
“People think that this is a career for people who dropped out of school and that is a silly misconception we have evolved from. I hate to hear women say they are interested in this line of work because they are looking for something to do.
“No, you are not looking for something to do; you either do what is required or just don’t come. This industry needs people who are serious-minded and who want to uplift what we as practitioners do.”
Melissa said beauty is a serious business.
“Everything that I have, beauty gave me. Beauticians need to band together and put a stoppage to this stigma of beauty being a side thing . . . . It is serious business.”
“Theology broadened my horizon and when people come to the salon I don’t see religion or creed – we have positive conversations and friendly relations. I am building a new type of sanctuary around here. We are healers and our work involves a holistic approach to the mind and body.
To this extent, Melissa is opening a retreat/spa club for the elderly on weekdays.
“This business venture is dedicated to elderly folk who are mobile and do not want to be confined in a retirement home. The activities I have planned for them even have me excited. I thought about what I would want to enjoy at that age and I feel it is going to be a success.”
The 38 year-old said she wants other young women to be just as successful as her and offers free beauty classes as a way of giving back to the community.
She added that she goes the extra mile to ensure her girls receive job attachments when they complete their training with her.
“I want my girls to be innovative and stay on top of their game. I want them to know that I really care about their wellbeing so I am not here to make friends. I believe in being a strict teacher so that when they go out into the world their professionalism is at its highest possible [level]. I also see that there is a market for female barbers so I am doing a course at the Skills Training.
Clemonds said that when she looks back at how far she has come, she is really proud. She said she did not think her success would have been to this magnitude but deep within she knew God had something special in store for her.
She added that the road to success was filled with hiccups and failures but one has to keep pressing on and be determined to push forward.